Guatemala City to El Chupadero –Dec. 27th
I slept… a LOT! And then, I slept some more! -Tyler
I did NOT sleep- Amelia
I no speako muy Spanish-Farman
PUCHIKA MAMI! –Emily
Today was a hectic yet exciting day. After a 9 hour layover in Houston, TX, we took our second 1000+ mile plane flight and the three of us finally arrived in Guatemala City: passports and papers in hand. After passing through customs we picked of our luggage, with the exclusion of one bag, and met with Emily and her cousin Wilmar, who brought us from Guatemala to their grandparent’s house. Along the way, we stopped at a mall to get a quick bite to eat, and to run a few errands, and got a scenic view of the Guatemalan countryside. At the house we were introduced to Emily’s family and got the grand tour, I had to duck a LOT in order to walk around. Taking a shower here will be a challenge…
Las Cuevas de Agua — December 29th
After leaving Wilmar’s at 6 in the morning , and taking a brief stop at Burger King for some desayuno (Spanish for breakfast), the five of us took the long and bumpy 8 hour drive, through the winding mountains of Guatemala, to our cabin named Las Marias K’An-B’A”, near the park Semuc Champey. The cabin’s name isn’t Spanish, rather it’s in the language of the Mayan K’ekchi tribe that live around the area. After we got settled into our cabin, we found out that there was a tour of a cueva de agua , Spanish for water cave, and the tour was leaving in a few minutes. We changed into our swimming gear and walked with a guide to a station near the cave. The guide attached string to our flip flops so we wouldn’t lose them while in the cave, walked us up a short trail in the mountains, and gave us long candles before we entered the cave. I don’t think any of us expected what happened next. We got our candles lit and were told to keep a hold onto them, since the cave was pitch black without that light. Also, we had to swim holding the candle as well, which was a minor yet crucial detail we didn’t know about before entering.
Our guide was a speedy little local kid that wore a head light and many times would speed off and turn off his light, leaving all of us in the dark. In the cave we walked both on the rocks and in the water all while looking at the stalactites and stalagmites inside. Throughout the cave, there were ropes, ladders and rocks we had to climb up and deep ponds we had to swim across, all while wearing swim suits and flip flops, and holding on to a gradually shrinking candle, our only light source. At some parts of the cave, the air was very thin and hard to breathe in which made the tour that much more difficult. When we reached the end of the cave we found some mud or clay and all made fake tribal face markers. There, we found out that there was only one way in the cave and one way out. So we had to go back the same way we came, going backwards down ladders, climbing down ropes, in the dark slippery cave. FINALLY, we made it out to sunlight and went back down the little trail we came up at the beginning. We went back to the station, got inner tubes, and floated down the cool blue river back to our cabin.
Unfortunately we didn’t have a waterproof camera to take pictures while we were in the cave, but our battle scars from grabbing and falling on rocks, and a small candle with a blackened wick are markers that we accomplished a great feat. If anyone ever goes there, I would suggest bringing water shoes, waterproof hiking boots, or flippers so you have a lower chance of slipping and drowning. Also, some type of water resistant flashlight, incase your guide runs off and yells for you to hurry up. Having a ATV wouldn’t hurt either, going up and down the bumpy mountainous road to get there.
Semuc Champey — December 30th
Today we woke up to the sounds of Rebecca Black’s debut single, seeing as it was Friday morning. After listening to the terrible alarm, showering and changing, we went back to the main cabin to get some breakfast. There, we ran into a couple from Jersey (no, not Jersey Shore, the Jersey in the U.K.) we met last night at dinner and talked with them for a while. After breakfast we went back up to our cabin to get ready to see the pozas or pools at Semuc Champey, a natural monument. The pools there are cool and naturally turquoise colored, and are also where the national bird of Guatemala, the endangered Quetzal, is said to be found.
Shortly after entering the forested park, we saw a sign near rock steps announcing a difficult 1:15 hour hike to the “Mirador”, which is an over look of the natural pools. We all decided to take the hike not knowing what was in store for us. Simply put, we had to climb up a mountain. None of us were really prepared for the occasion, wearing bathing suits and regular shoes or flip flops, so it was even more difficult. Fortunately there weren’t too many bugs in the forest, either that or the bug spray we used worked really well. We walked up steep hills using rock steps, and wooden stairs to help us reach the summit. After sweating, tripping, and attempting to climb up a mountain, we made it to the “Mirador”, overlooking the pools we intended to visit. The view was amazing, and the pictures we took couldn’t do it justice. The pools were really extremely clear and blue green and there were great views of them from the summit. We took a bunch of pictures and went to figure out how to actually get to the pools.
We followed a sign pointing to the “pozas” and had a slightly easier time coming down from the mountain than going up. When we got to the bottom of the mountain we got to relax for a while, wading in the water and taking pictures of the pools and the waterfall. We also took pictures of the underground river which is where the park gets it’s name. After playing around in the water, we had to leave and check out of our cabin. After following the sign pointing to the salida, exit in Spanish, we realized that we could’ve followed a dirt path for about 5 minutes and gone directly to the pools instead of hiking up and down a mountain for an hour. However, we wouldn’t have been able to see the great overhead view of the pools without taking that hike, so it was all worth it. We got back to the cabin, checked out of our room, and left to take another 8 hour winding drive through the mountains back to Guatemala City.
Insert series of sleepless naps in the car and pain from worn out hiking legs… We finally got back to the city, on an empty tank and with empty stomachs. We stopped at Burger King and ordered meals, in Farman’s case, accidentally ordering two number 2 combos, which was pretty entertaining. When we went to the gas station to fill up, Wilmar had to get diesel but the pump was the wrong size so we just went back to his place, after a long exhausting day. After taking turns on the Internet we all went to bed.